Erotic, violent, and intelligently rendered, Mirage is also one of the earliest Chinese works detailing the rise of the opium trade in China. This novel, the authorship of which remains a mystery, will appeal to anyone interested in the history of China or in thrilling historical fiction in general.
Patrick Hanan (1927-2014) was the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Chinese Literature, Emeritus, at Harvard University. He was the author of The Chinese Short Story, The Chinese Vernacular Story (a history of the genre), Essays on Chinese Fiction of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, and The Creation of Li Yu, and the translator of many works of Chinese traditional fiction, including The Carnal Prayer Mat and The Sea of Regret. Mirage was his last translation of Chinese fiction.
"Patrick Hanan's most recently published translation, Mirage
is historically significant for two reasons. First, the 1804 novel
is the earliest to describe the lives of Guangdong merchants who
traded with the West. Second, it is the last translation completed
by Patrick Hanan, the foremost scholarly authority on premodern
Chinese short fiction in the Western world and a prolific
translator of that same fiction, before his death in 2014. In both
his translation and his scholarship, Hanan was relentlessly
attentive to the elegant touches that animated works of fiction
like Mirage, to works that took seriously the craft of
entertainment and the lives and values of ordinary people." -Dylan
"The anonymous author of Mirage fuses the tropes of its literary forebears to create a compelling portrait of a society on the cusp of a destabilising modernity, with the structures-bureaucratic, military and social-which have held the Empire in place becoming corrupted and weakened by avarice and moral decrepitude....the late Harvard scholar Patrick Hanan has rendered the novel into a clear, vernacular English, and has avoided weighing the edition down with lengthy footnotes or commentaries; this is very much a translation to be read and enjoyed." -Asian Review of Books
"Mirage is a key work from the critical period of the early nineteenth century. It resembles a modern-day R-rated movie, touching on serious issues but containing scenes of explicit sexual pleasure and violent conflict."-Keith McMahon